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Schools must re-boot education to keep pace with disruptive technology

Report warns that advances in technology are rendering Stem courses irrelevant

By
PE
July 02, 2014



Rapid advances in areas such as robotics, nanotechnology and cloud computing are dramatically changing Stem-based jobs, but Stem education provision is lagging dangerously far behind, says report.

NEF: the Innovation Institute is calling for a wholesale restructuring of Stem education in the UK, including the return to the polytechnics, to keep pace with disruptive technology and safeguard jobs and economic growth.

In its Think Tank report, Inventing the Future: transforming Stem economies, it said that UK companies adopting advances in areas such as biotechnology, additive manufacturing and nanotechnology, is dramatically shifting the jobs landscape and changing the skills requirements of most Stem-based sectors.

However, it warns that our Stem education is not preparing the next generation of workers for these changes, with SME start-ups to multinationals involved in the report stating that industry newcomers are often ill prepared for the workplace and have to undergo further training in order to gain the required competencies.

Professor Sa'ad Medhat, chief executive of NEF, said: “These dramatic changes in technology call for a more flexible and agile workforce, able to move between various disciplines. And therein lies the problem: our education, funding and qualifications systems are still constricted by academic boundaries that were established decades or even centuries ago. Despite the obvious enthusiasm and dedication of teachers and lecturers, out- dated skills are still taught in the classroom. New technology is often ignored.”

NEF is calling on local enterprise partnerships and chambers of commerce to play an integral role in devising coordinated and long-term regional skills strategies: liaising with industry and academia on technology trends; paving the way for differentiated technology clusters across the UK.

Recommendations in Inventing the Future include allowing more senior industry figures to sit on governance boards to influence education strategy, the creation of community education centres and regional polytechnics to act as “innovation hubs”, and the abolition of a fixed Stem curriculum.

Medhat added: “It’s time for all stakeholders - Government, industry and academia – to collaborate together on a concerted programme of change. Doing nothing is no longer an option. Action must be taken to transform our Stem economies, both for the good of the students and the long term economic health of UK plc.”

The full report can be downloaded here: http://www.thenef.org.uk/inventing_the_future





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